The competitiveness of European industry
- The single market and EU's industrial policy
- The challenges of European industry
- The foundations and the means of EU's industrial policy
- SMEs in the EU single market
Whilst the original European Treaties did not make provision for a Community industrial policy, they dealt primarily with the industrial sector of the Member States. In fact, the Treaties establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) constituted sectoral policies in the relevant industrial sectors, while the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) chiefly regulated the common market in industrial products [see section 2.1]. But the ECSC and EAEC (Euratom) Treaties were more precise than the EEC Treaty or even the EC Treaty. They included provisions both on the attainment of the common market and on the structural policy of the sectors to which they related, and they gave powers to the Community institutions to formulate such policies [see sections 19.2.2 and 19.2.3].
Certainly, the customs union [see chapter 5] enhanced the ability of European industry to compete both on its own market and globally. As from 1968, with the introduction of the Common Customs Tariff and by virtue of its uniform duties, the Community had available to it a valuable instrument for conducting an effective commercial policy [see chapter 23] and for pressing on towards the liberalisation of international trade [see section 5.2.1]. That instrument has been used successfully by the Commission, which has negotiated, on behalf of the European Community/Union, the reduction of the customs protection of the major commercial powers within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) [see section 23.4].
However, the easing of international protectionism did not suffice to redress the competitive situation of European industry. To be able to measure up to the American and Japanese multinational companies, European industries had to find the dimension most appropriate to the new conditions of competition and improve their productivity by seeking new products and new production methods. Only the large European market could offer them those conditions of competitiveness.